Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods tied for the lead at BMW
A pair of 62s were enough to get the two superstars to the top of the leaderboard
Woods plays his shot from the 11th tee. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy waves to the crowd on the 12th green after making a birdie during the first round of the BMW Championship at Aronimink Golf Club in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods put on stunning shows in the opening round of the BMW Championship in Pennsylvania to tie each other for the lead at eight under.
Out early, Woods had dominated proceedings with a front nine of just 29 shots which brought about the very real chance of the 14-time Major winner breaking the 60 barrier for the first time in his professional career.
In the end it was a 62 for Woods to sit at eight under par, tying the course record and getting within one of his career low round.
But McIlroy looked intent on stealing that course record for himself as he went through his first 14 holes in nine under and sparked real chances of a 59.
The four-time Major winner started on the 10th and got right down to business with birdies at the 11th, 12th and 13th.
After a strong showing at the Dell Technologies Championship in Boston last week the former world number one came into the third FedEx Cup playoff event knowing that a win is needed if he is to control his own destiny at the Tour Championship in two weeks and perhaps claim a second FedEx Cup title.
With just one win so far this season – at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March – McIlroy could do with a strong finish to the season to put a gloss on a campaign that was once again Major-less for the fourth year in a row.
If he continues playing like he did on Thursday then it will be a very nice gloss indeed.
At three under through eight holes he was cruising along nicely before hitting the turbo around the turn to reel off six birdies in a row from his ninth to 14th holes and move ahead of Woods at nine under. Thoughts of a 59 were now very much on McIlroy’s mind with just two more birdies needed in the final four holes to break that 60 barrier.
However, it would not be that easy. After finding the bunker with his approach at the Par 4 seventh – his 16th – a nice splash shot was not followed by the putt to match and McIlroy walked away with his first bogey of the day to slip back to eight under and tied for the lead with Woods.
Another bogey would follow at the next hole after a poor tee shot at the Par 3 and an excellent round was in danger of being ruined but McIlroy bounced back with a birdie at the last to sign for a 62 and tie Woods.
It was a late bogey that also marred an otherwise stellar performance from the 14-time Major winner himself in the oppressive humidity of the rolling hills just west of Philadelphia.
But Woods made amends with a closing birdie at the par-five ninth, where he sank a seven-foot putt.
Earlier, the 42-year-old American rushed to the turn in 29 strokes, including a five-foot eagle at the par-five 16th.
Woods has not won a tournament since 2013, though he missed much of four seasons with a chronic back injury before surgery last year alleviated the problem.
Collated first round scores in the BMW Championship (USA unless stated, par 70):
62 Rory McIlroy (Irl), Tiger Woods
63 Xander Schauffele
64 Justin Thomas, Peter Uihlein, Alex Noren (Swe), Billy Horschel
65 Aaron Wise, Byeong-Hun An (Kor), Ryan Armour, Rickie Fowler
66 Keegan Bradley, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Justin Rose (Eng), Brian Gay, Jon Rahm (Spa), Gary Woodland, Webb Simpson, Henrik Stenson (Swe)
67 Jason Day (Aus), Andrew Putnam, Kyle Stanley, Beau Hossler, Emiliano Grillo (Arg), Bryson DeChambeau, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Tai), J.J. Spaun, Keith Mitchell, Jordan Spieth
68 Zach Johnson, Andrew Landry, Chez Reavie, Charles Howell III, Tony Finau, Ted Potter, Jr., Ian Poulter (Eng), Patton Kizzire
69 Pat Perez, Chris Kirk, Jason Kokrak, Chesson Hadley, Brian Harman, Adam Hadwin (Can), Brooks Koepka, Abraham Ancer (Mex), Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Paul Casey (Eng), Patrick Reed
70 Kevin Na, Luke List, Francesco Molinari (Ita), Dustin Johnson, Ryan Palmer, Scott Piercy, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa), Brice Garnett
71 Cameron Smith (Aus), Austin Cook, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng), Patrick Cantlay, Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker, Si Woo Kim (Kor)
72 Kevin Kisner
73 Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa)
74 Brendan Steele, Adam Scott (Aus), Marc Leishman (Aus).